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Wageningen Universiteit (2003)

Herd dynamics of smallholder dairy in the Kenya highlands

Bebe, B.O.

Titre : Herd dynamics of smallholder dairy in the Kenya highlands

Auteur : Bebe, B.O.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 2003

Smallholder dairy farmers in the Kenya highlands generally intensify their farming systems by integrating dairy with crop production and shifting from free-grazing to semi-zero- or zero-grazing. They consequently change the breed composition, size and structure of their herds with resultant change in herd demographic rates. The intensification of smallholder dairying has underpinned changes in the farming systems to sustain more intensive land use and support more people per unit area of land in smallholder households. However, the concern is whether smallholders will continue to benefit from dairying through continued intensification when facing the pressures of continuously shrinking landholdings, worsening soil fertility and reduced access to formerly public delivered livestock input and output services, while imported nutrients remain relatively low and non-agricultural job opportunities remain lacking. The objective of this study was therefore to quantify the consequences of the intensification of farming systems in the Kenya highlands on the dynamics of smallholder dairy herds in order to better understand the constraints to, and opportunities for, the continued intensification of smallholder dairying. Data collection was through a random stratified cross-sectional survey of smallholder households. Data from the cross-sectional survey sample were complemented with additional information from longitudinal and targeted semi-structured interviews, which involved a randomly selected sub-sample of the previous cross-sectional survey. The drivers of intensification of smallholder dairying were identified and the relative changes were quantified at the level of the farms and farming systems. Intensification requires increased use of external resources including sources of replacement animals, feed resources, animal health and breeding services and credit to sustain the herd population and production. Prospects for maintaining and expanding smallholder dairying in the Kenya highlands depend upon the proportion of free-grazing farms maintained within the farming systems, because these supply semi-zero- and zero-grazing farms with dairy replacements. The rationale underlying smallholders’ breeding decisions is based on multiple objectives of more milk, adaptability to local feed conditions and diseases and the provision of non-marketed production such as manure, insurance and financing roles of cattle. Feeding interventions to support continued intensification of smallholder dairying must be within the context of the household’s economy, which is characterised by limited cash flow and low risk bearing capacity. Smallholders need affordable working capital to sustain intensification with use of external resources. Solutions to constraints of intensification must concurrently involve both technical and institutional innovations that may encourage greater complementarities and stratification in the dairy sub-sector.

Mots clés : dairy farming / dairy farms / small farms / dairy herds / population dynamics / intensification / animal feeding / animal nutrition / feeds / dairy performance / farming systems / highlands / kenya / integrated farming systems


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